Ryan Simpson, BSc (Hons) Computer Games Programming, 2013

What are you doing now?

I’m working as a game engineer at Hardlight, a SEGA studio primarily focused on mobile games. I’ve been working here for almost 3 years now and had the pleasure of working on two of my childhood gaming icons: Sonic the Hedgehog, and Crazy Taxi.

I even got to meet Kenji Kanno, the mind behind Crazy Taxi.

What were the main reasons you took that course?

I took the course because I loved video games and really wanted to make them.

I also grew up just as tech was becoming a staple in most homes so was pretty interested in how it all worked and knew it’d be good for a career if I could work with technology without much struggle.

Why did you choose to study the course at the University of Derby?

A friend’s older brother did the same college course as me and ended up looking into university degrees around programming and mentioned to me that Derby had a course that was pretty widely renowned as being hard as nails, and really good.

That was that, and I applied the next year.

What impact has studying this course at Derby had on your career?

It had an instant impact: if I hadn’t have studied at Derby then I wouldn’t have gone on my third year placement, met the people I had, and gained the reputation I have.

This would have put me in a much worse spot than I was when I left university with a good reputation, and being able to get a recommendation and referral for SEGA.

How did the lecturers inspire you? 

While I studied my main lecturers and course leads were both industry veterans from companies I knew and had played games from, this alone was enough to inspire. But it was also really inspiring to learn how they had created a successful start-up between them and some interesting software / projects together.

Then post-placement we had new lecturers, they were inspirations in a different sense. I was never good at essays, explanations or academic focus on my work, but my new lecturers helped improve that side of my work, where I didn’t think I would ever be bothered.

What are your future plans?

I just want to work on games that people find fun, be that mobile games with a hardcore mobile audience, or the smaller short burst ad-driven impulse mobile games for a more casual audience, and eventually maybe even PC/console games depending on where my career takes me.

Who are you still in touch with from University of Derby?

I’m still in touch with friends from University of course, but I’m also in touch with ex lecturers who I also regard as friends; John Sear, Adam Russel, Tommy Thompson, Minsi Chen to name a few. All great teachers and nice people.

"Derby had a course that was pretty widely renowned as being hard as nails, and really good." Ryan Simpson